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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for listening to people talk. They are also for reading what people write. They are for taking a moment. So let’s do that.

  • Richard Moss on Cliff Johnson’s 25-year development of The Fool And His Money: “I am so delighted that I can say the game is finished,” Johnson chuckles. The Fool and his Money was a labor of love—a sequel to the award-winning cult-favorite 1987 Macintosh “meta-puzzle” The Fool’s Errand, which was later ported to Amiga, DOS, and Atari ST. “I’m glad [that] at the beginning I did not know the game would take me ten years,” Johnson confesses. “In some ways thinking it would be out every six months was my psychological way of dealing with oh my god oh my god oh my god.”
  • Randy Smith (astutely) argues that getting things right on Greenlight is less about the pitch and more about appealling to the culture of gamers who inhabit that system: “Tiger Style aspires to appeal to adult sensibilities, and one key point is play patterns. Our games are winnable within a few hours and playable in short sessions. They are simple to learn, with depth arising from clear and visible interactions. This appeals to casual gamers. Successful Greenlight games showed a very different pattern: massive pages of stats, hundreds of hours of playtime, games offering a hardcore hobby to sink your teeth into.”
  • Eurogamer examines “The Cult Of Total Biscuit” – wait, it’s a cult now? “I asked my Twitter followers what they thought about Total Biscuit yesterday. The response was as instant as it was polarised: ‘he’s arrogant’, ‘he’s passionate’, ‘he’s unique’, ‘he’s rude’, ‘he’s got a God complex’, ‘he’s just a dude’, ‘I can’t forgive him for something he said, and how he refused to back down’. In two short years he’s become more marmite than man.”
  • Wired looks at Why Pro Gamers Don’t Play Call of Duty: “But pro gamers have a fundamental problem with Call of Duty, and unfortunately, that problem is exactly the aspect of the series that causes Activision to make such obscene amounts of money off the franchise in the first place. Like clockwork, it releases a new Call of Duty on the second Tuesday of every November. To pull this off, the titles are developed by two different developers that switch off years. And every year, millions of players abandon the game they’ve been playing for the last 12 months and shift en masse to the new one on launch day.”
  • The Average Gamer argues that audio logs are a terrible way to tell stories (I only partially agree with this, since I think the games that do audiologs actually do a lot of the other stuff suggested here): “Audio logs are a problem; they’re a lazy solution to a necessary part of storytelling. We absolutely need ways to gradually have information revealed, but we can’t rely on the same method over and over. It’s tiresome, but it’s easily fixed. If you’re a game developer, here’s 4 better examples of ways to tell stories. If you’re playing games, here are 4 things to demand instead of boring audio.”
  • Hookshot talk to Simon Roth about Maia: “One of the great things about god games, especially from the likes of Bullfrog, is that they were years ahead of their time,” he says. “I replayed Dungeon Keeper recently and it felt surprisingly modern. Where I am pushing forward is finding new ways of displaying information to the player. A lot of management games quickly become spreadsheets. To me, that’s completely unnecessary. With my custom rendering engine I’m hoping to impart the majority of the data visually. An angry colonist can stomp his feet, an underpowered lamp will brown-out and flicker or a damaged computer will belch acrid smoke. There’s no need to intimidate the player with statistics and maths”.
  • Patricia Hernandez on how empty many game cities feel: “I thought about the kingdom under the tyranny of the lord regent, I thought of the great whale beasts that we killed to fuel our everyday conveniences—both things that I never really got to see in the game. I’m more acquainted with the rats of Dunwall, with the books of Dunwall than its actual everyday citizens.”
  • The weird tale of hackers in Dark Souls: “Getting help from a hacker leaves me with mixed feelings. I’m used to being invaded by them, toyed with, then killed in an ignominious fashion, such as being beaten to death barehanded or inundated in toxic dung pies. I’d never summoned a hacker before and I can’t tell whether Dickwraith’s motivations were altruistic or malevolent.”
  • Tadgh Kelly offers some thoughts on whether persuasive games really are persuasive: “The primary reason why these projects fail is that they are terrible as games. They are trite, earnest, cumbersome, badly engineered and slow. Their core systems (the rules, actions and outcomes) are limited and have no sense of delight. They lack robustness, are very easily exploited as a result, and the user reaches her maximum mastery very early. They’re just no fun.”
  • The ancient d20.

Music this week is Wolfgang Voight’s Gas, Zauberberg 7.

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Jim Rossignol

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